I don’t know about you, but I am drowning in e-mail.
Most of my non-day job e-mail goes into a couple of Google G-mail accounts. This is mainly because G-mail has so many features to help me sort, find, and respond to e-mail.
First off, I get almost zero spam, because Google’s spam filters use the power of the userbase of G-mail to identify spam. If tens of thousands of people flag something as spam or phishing, it probably is, so G-mail whisks it away from your in box.
Next, G-mail lets you create any number of filters for incoming messages. You can have messages that you want to store (receipts, say), but do not want in your inbox moved into a Receipts folder and removed from the inbox. Automatically. Every time.
Searching in G-mail is just as intuitive, quick and powerful as searching the web. (And, if you are in G-mail and want to search the web, there’s a button to quickly get search results from the web instead of from your e-mail.)
But Google is going further than any other e-mail product with G-mail. They are helping you automatically sort your mail without you having to set up filters. Last year, Google released something called Priority Inbox, which does a fairly serviceable job of predicting what might be of more importance to you, based on what you read and reply to. Over the last couple of days, Google has released a new feature for G-mail into Google Labs. It’s called “Smart Labels.” As e-mail comes in, Google looks to see if it is a Notification (something sent directly to you, but not from someone you have ever replied to, or perhaps with a no-reply setting in the header), Bulk Mail (an e-mail mass mailing list), or Forums (from a group mailing list). If so, it tags your e-mail with one of these labels, and, if you tell it so by simply clicking a checkbox, it can remove that e-mail from your inbox.
To set this up, log into G-mail, go to Settings and then Labs, and scroll down until you see Smart Labels and mark that Enabled. For more information, see Google’s G-mail blog entry on this feature.
This looks powerful to me, and already has given me a smaller inbox where I will have most of my tasks and must-respond items.
In case you are wondering, “How does this relate to genealogy?” the answer is that time spent wrestling with your e-mail inbox is time not spent on your research. Google continues to help streamline the way e-mail works so we can get back to something we would rather be doing.